Always find you’re coming down with multiple cases of the flu each year?  One thing is for certain and that is falling ill is no fun at all. You feel like you’re doing everything right to avoid it.

You make sure to wash your hands multiple times each day, you ensure that you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night, and you steer clear of anyone who’s demonstrating signs of sniffles or coughing.

But yet, you are still hit – almost without fail.

The fact is, if you are not taking part in a vigorous exercise program, you could be missing out on one of the best natural flu defenders out there.

Let’s look at what you need to know about this vigorous exercise-flu connection.

How Vigorous Exercise Helps Ward Off The Flu

In a recent online survey, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine polled more than 4800 people on their health habits and discovered that those who took part in any form of vigorous exercise for at least two and a half hours per week had a incidence rate of the flu of 10% less than those who didn’t.

Take note that those who partook in just moderate intensity exercise did not seem to get the same protection and came down with the virus just as frequency as the non-exercisers did.

So what’s happening here? How come those individuals experienced the reduce risk?

When you do high intensity exercise, you improve the body’s overall aerobic capacity, which helps boost your overall health status. Basically, you become stronger.  As you gain this health strength, you also become that much more capable to fend off any viruses that you may come into contact with. Your immune system gets ‘supercharged’ in a sense, so you’re less likely to be taken down by the common cold or flu.

Each time you exercise, it’s like you are deep cleaning your body in a sense,  giving your immune system a jolt to help wipe out any unwanted bacteria present in your system.

Take Caution

It is important to take caution however. Too much exercise at a high intensity level (or for lengthy durations of time), will actually have the opposite effect.  Those who are exercising beyond their body’s capacity and not recovering between workouts will actually experience a weakened immune system, making them more likely to come down with the flu.

In fact, recurring colds and flus are one of the top signs that you may be overtrained.

So while some vigorous exercise is good, more is not necessarily better.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you must do vigorous exercise seven days a week to reap this benefit.

What If You’re Down With The Flu?

So this said, how much is enough?  How often should you be cranking up the intensity in the gym?

As a general guideline, aim for no more than 3-4 intense workouts per week. These may be supplemented with 2-3 lower intensity workouts, making sure that you have 1-2 days off each week for full recovery. On those days, do nothing more than leisure activities if you must (such as walking).

Remember as well that lower intensity yoga can also help to boost the immune system as it can help to reduce stress (and stress will destroy a strong immune system), so try this on your off days if you still want to do something positive for your body.

When it comes to forming those intense workout sessions, while improving your cardiovascular health is paramount to reap this protection, remember that this does not need to mean just cardio based activities.

A circuit training program that is performed with little rest and really gets your heart rate up can be just as beneficial for helping to show the same results as that cardio session would have.

So next time you’re struggling to stay motivated to get into the gym for that intense workout session you have planned, you might just want to think about how you’d feel with the flu right now.  Then remember, doing that workout session will help you avoid that.

For most people, the misery they feel during the flu will far outweigh any perceived discomfort they may feel they’ll experience by hitting the gym for that intense workout.

Have you noticed that you’ve come down with the flu less frequently since you started exercising more vigorously? Share your experience here with us.